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Bears hold on to down Jets

Sep 23, 2014 - 5:07 AM East Rutherford, NJ ( - Jay Cutler completed two touchdown passes to Martellus Bennett and the injury-riddled Chicago Bears held off the New York Jets, 27-19, on Monday night.

Cutler completed 23-of-38 passes for 225 yards and the two scores for Chicago, which emptied its defensive backfield for the second straight week due to injuries.

Alshon Jeffery, playing through a hamstring injury, made eight catches for 105 yards while Bennett became the third player in the NFL this season with at least one receiving touchdown in all three games. He trails just Denver tight end Julius Thomas for the league lead in receiving scores.

Chicago (2-1) failed to establish a running game for the second straight week, but found a way to win yet again. Two-time Pro Bowl running back Matt Forte carried 13 times for 33 yards, and Chicago picked up just 60 yards on the ground as a unit one week after gaining only 46 in a win over San Francisco.

Chicago's battered defense picked off Geno Smith twice, sacked him three times and allowed just one touchdown in six trips to the red zone. Smith had an opportunity to tie the game with a late scoring drive, but the Bears D held up one last time, forcing a turnover on downs from the 9-yard line with less than a minute left.

"We had six trips to the red zone, which is great, but to be 1-of-6 down there, obviously was a big factor in the game," said Jets head coach Rex Ryan.

Smith threw for 316 yards and a touchdown to Jeremy Kerley, who paced the receiving core with seven grabs for 81 yards.

The Jets (1-2) have lost two straight games.

Smith scrambled for 11 yards on the first play of the game, but his first pass of the game went right to cornerback Ryan Mundy, who ran 45 yards untouched to give the Bears a 7-0 lead 30 seconds in.

Both teams went three-and-out on their next series, but another mistake by the Jets set up Chicago's second touchdown. Rookie Jalen Saunders couldn't secure Pat O'Donnell's punt and Ahmad Dixon pounced on it to give the ball back to the Bears.

Brandon Marshall drew a pass interference penalty on the first play of the ensuing drive and on 3rd-and-goal, Cutler found his tight end Bennett in the back of the end zone.

"It was tough being down early," Smith said. "We put ourselves in a hole with the interception for touchdown and with the fumble there. We definitely put ourselves in a hole. A positive sign is the way we fought back."

Nick Folk potted a 43-yard field goal towards the end of the quarter to put the Jets on the scoreboard, but Robbie Gould countered with a short kick of his own a minute into the second.

Smith's 43-yard completion to Jace Amaro set up another Folk field goal, this time from 28 yards away, at 9:57 of the second.

Later in the period, the Jets finally found the end zone when Smith stood in the pocket and took a crushing blow from Lamarr Houston, but not before delivering a strike to Kerley. The 5-foot-9 receiver also took a big hit, but held onto the ball and fell over the goal line to cut New York's halftime deficit to 17-13.

Cutler led a flawless drive to open the second half, dropping a 42-yard pass into Jeffery's hands down the left sideline on the second play to get things going. He found Marshall in the end zone two plays later, but a penalty nullified the score. Cutler was unphased, however, firing to Bennett on third down for a 13-yard touchdown.

Smith made a crucial error on New York's next drive, throwing into heavy traffic in the end zone. Rookie Kyle Fuller was there to secure his third interception of the young season, ending a promising Jets drive.

"Our defense stayed poised and knew that everything would work out for us," Fuller said.

Folk kicked field goals on each of New York's next two possessions to cut the margin to 24-19.

Gould was pure on a 45-yarder late in the fourth to make it an eight-point game. Chicago picked up a pair of third downs on the series to take the clock down to 3:10 before kicking off for New York's final possession.

The Jets went for it on fourth down in their own territory just before the two-minute warning, and Smith found Amaro right at the sticks to keep the drive alive. Chicago challenged the ruling, which was upheld, and three plays later, Smith hit Greg Salas for a career-long 51-yard pickup.

Smith led his offense inside the 10, but came up just short of tying the score. On 4th-and-5 from the 9-yard line, Chicago sent the house and Smith lofted a fade to Kerley, who came down with the catch two yards past the back of the end zone.

Game Notes

Bennett joins Philadelphia's Jeremy Maclin and Thomas as the only players with a touchdown reception in every game this season ... Marshall had one catch for six yards. He has caught a pass in 118 straight games ... Since 2010, the Bears have returned 19 interceptions for touchdowns. No other team has more than 13 in that time ... Chicago has won 15 straight games when leading at halftime ... The Bears improved to 8-3 all-time against the Jets. They've won four straight in the series ... Smith leads the NFL since the beginning of the 2013 season with six interceptions returned for touchdowns.